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Need advice re: 12-night Zambia itinerary for August 2012

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Nov 13th, 2011, 12:07 PM
  #1
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Need advice re: 12-night Zambia itinerary for August 2012

DH and I have 12 nights to spend in Zambia next August (our 7th time on safari but our first time in Zambia), and we would like to spend two of those at Victoria Falls, perhaps at Tongabezi. The other 10 nights we would like to spend on safari, preferably under $500 per person per night. One itinerary suggested to us was 7 nights in Kafue, with 3 nights at Lufupa Bush Camp in Central Northern Kafue, 2 nights at Musanza Tented Camp in Northwestern Kafue, and 2 nights at Busanga Bush Camp in northern Kafue. Does anyone have thoughts about these camps or this itinerary? I did a search here and on tripadvisor.com and there was not much information about these camps. I was thinking of maybe trying to add 3 nights at Flatdogs Camp as well. Would appreciate any suggestions. We are experienced safari-goers and photographers (have previously been to Sabi Sands, Timbavati, Kruger, Kgalagadi, Botswana's Kwando Circuit and Chief's Camp, and Tanzania). Our priorities are great game viewing and photographic opportunities with excellent guiding (preferably with a tracker as well) and not too many people per vehicle (but we probably can't spring for a private vehicle this time). The ability to do night drives and some walks would be a plus. Thanks in advance.
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Nov 13th, 2011, 12:57 PM
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Can't help you with those camps, as I stayed at Robin Pope camps which are now $650. per person per night. After looking at a return trip to Zambia next August and the cost of the camps now, I booked a trip to Zimbabwe. Great game viewing for less money.
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Nov 13th, 2011, 01:01 PM
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It sounds like what is being suggested to you is the Wilderness Kafue Rivers & Plains trip. This may not suit you as it is a group departure with maximum of 8 in the vehicle.

In SOuth Luangwa, Flatdogs is a good budget option but it you'll be driving mainly in the busy central section of the park.

If you're looking at less than $500, I think Robin Pope, Norman Carr and the Bushcamp Company all come in around that mark. The Bushcamp Company camps only have one vehicle and one guide in camp (for max 8 guests) so you activities have to be decided upon as a group but usually seem to default to walking in the morning and driving in the afternoon. It can be a bit of a squash in the vehicle for drives if the camp is full. The Norman Carr and RP camps are mainly based in the northern part of the park, which I prefer to the south where the Bushcamp Company's camps are based. Also worth a look is Lion Camp which is definitely under $500 and in a great game viewing area in the north of the park. It's a bit more built up and lodge style than other camps but it's great value considering the area it's in.

I've been to Tafika which is great but will be well over $500. Kaingo has a great reputation for photographers as they have some good hides and it's in the same area as Lion Camp. However, again, I think it's going to be more than $500.

All camps in SOuth Luangwa will offer walks and night drives are automatic- afternoon drives will go on until about 8pm, with a sundowner stop.
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Nov 13th, 2011, 01:03 PM
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OK, I stand corrected on RPS!
In that case I definitely recommend Lion Camp- they were about $450 this year.
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Nov 13th, 2011, 07:22 PM
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Hi Lisa.

With all your experience this will be a tough assignment!

I have not personally been to the Kafue but Matt at our office worked at Busanga Bush Camp and has been to all those camps you mentioned in the Kafue. Pam, Sue, and Jenny from our office have also been to all those camps. Lufupa is good for an overnight on arrival if you have arrive by road from Lusaka and perhaps have to transfer by road to the Busanga Plains. Busanga Bush Camp has a premium because it is on the Busanga Plains and the tsetse fly issues are significantly mitigated there. I suggest just going to Busanga Bush Camp as you will get a better rate with a longer stay and also possible a free balloon ride next August. You'd have to check the latest Wilderness Specials to confirm.

This is going to be slightly over your budget but here is one idea for the upfront portion (I suggest going to Kafue last and after Livingstone/Victoria Falls). My favorite place in Livingstone is River Club which is directly adjacent to Tongabezi.

Since you don’t want to do too much walking, I suggest only two of the Bushcamp Company Camps and maybe one Robin Pope property at Mfuwe. The challeneg of game activity by deomocracy that Stokeygilr mentioned may be a challenge.

Day 1 Arrive Johannesburg and overnight.
Day 2 Fly to Lusaka. On arrival, fly Pro-flight to Mfuwe. From there, transfer by road to Mfuwe Lodge and overnight.
Day 3 Transfer four hours by road to to Bilimungwe Bushcamp (http://www.bushcampcompany.com/bushcamps/bilimungwe.php) or Chindeni Bushcamp (http://www.bushcampcompany.com/bushcamps/chindeni.php) in South Luangwe National Park. Of all the properties in the Park these two will best serve your needs and maybe you can land rover game drive a bit more than hiking.
Day 4,5 On safari.
Day 6 Transfer back to Mfuwe by road after breakfast. Fly Pro-Flight to Lower Zambezi National Park and stay three nights at Chongwe River Lodge (http://www.chongwe.com/) on the edge of Lower Zambezi National Park. This is directly across the Zambezi River from Mana Pools. You can also consider Old Mondoro (http://www.oldmondoro.com/) within the park. Regarding Chongwe River Lodge, it is just outside the Park. It is set on the Chongwe River which is a small tributary. The game-viewing when you go into the Park at that west end is not as productive as the area around Old Mondoro. If you want to spend a little more than the $500 then you should perhaps consider Old Mondoro as it is in prime location. You have to drive about half an hour from Chongwe to get to great game viewing.
Day 7,8 Safari in Lower Zambezi National Park
Day 9 Fly on Pro-Flight to Livingstone, Zambia.
Day 10,11,12 Spend three days at Livingstone, Victoria Falls.
Day 13 Fly to Kafue National Park for three nights at Busanga Bush Camp on the Kafue Plains.
Day 14,15 Busanga Bush Camp
Day 16 Return to Johannesburg and fly home. Perhaps spend on night in Jo’burg to break things up.

Hope this helps.

Craig Beal – owner – Travel Beyond
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Nov 14th, 2011, 12:29 AM
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If you are going to do the Bush Camps, that's fine as long as you treat them as walking camps. There isn't really a good enough road network for 100% driving anyway and once you move away from the river you quickly get into mopane woodland. Even the afternoon drives went out later than at other camps (4:30pm) which gave time for a slow meander down to the river then stop for sundowners. It wasn't much more than a night drive. However, at Chindeni we did see a lot of leopard (3 in one night) on the night drives, so the night drives don't disappoint- the manager said recently they'd seen 7 on one drive! I also found there was a notable lack of lions around and this is partly to do with the proximity of the GMA on the other side of the river.

Another thing I didn't much like about the Bushcamps is that they keep the sun shade covers on the vehicles which is a pain on night drives where you're often looking at stuff up in trees (owls, genets, leopard). It makes it very difficult with the roof on, especially if you've got 7 or 8 in the vehicle.

From a walking perspective, if you are going to choose any, I would recommend Kuyenda as the manager/guide there is Phil Berry who is the most experienced guide in the valley (30+ years). I've dtayed at Chindeni, Kuyenda and Kapamba.

Another option which would fall in the sub-500 price range is Kafunta River Lodge. They are based outside the park and can access the park either via the main gate or by a pontoon (the Nkwali pontoon) which puts you in the lovely "president's loop" area of the park. Kafunta with Lion Camp would be a lovely combination of areas- my parents recently came back from a trip to Kafunta, Lion Camp and Mfuwe lodge and loved it. They don't much like walking, but had great game viewing and said they saw a leopard on almost every drive.
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Nov 14th, 2011, 11:19 PM
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My DH and I are just back (Oct/Nov 2011) from a 6-week self-drive through Botswana and Zambia, and Zambia was amazing. I am still working on my trip report and my poor DH is trying to edit over 7000 photos, so it will be a while before I post anything here.

In the meantime, here is a little input:

While we spent much of our time camping, we did stay at two safari lodges while in Zambia. In Lower Zambezi National Park we stayed (4 nights) at Old Mondoro. It was an amazing camp - probably our favourite camp ever (we have visited Africa yearly since 2004 - SA, Namibia, Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana, Zambia). The game viewing at Old Mondoro was amazing - 7 leopards on 3 night drives, so many genets and civets that we lost count, 5 honey badgers and many additions to our bird list...amazing. The camp is small - 4 tents/maximum 8 guests. The guides/trackers were excellent - we have read that Zambian guides are the best in Africa and, based on our recent experience, we are inclined to agree - they were very knowledgeable. Great walks! While Old Mondoro is described as a bush camp, you are certainly not roughing it - lovely tents and excellent food/wine. The host and hostess were lovely, as were all of the staff. I can't say enough about this camp - it was very special.

The second camp we visited was Kaingo in South Luangwa National Park. It too was a lovely camp (6 tents) - great sightings, great staff, wonderful guides/trackers, fantastic tents, each with a private veranda overlooking the river where they serve you lunch...While Old Mondoro was all about leopards, Kaingo was all about lions. The highlight was watching 10 lions cross the river in front of us and, over several hours, kill two buffalo. This camp also provided one of our most memorable nights in Africa - we spent a night in their elephant hide (which you must book in advance) - 20m up in the air in a tree on a (very sturdy!) wooden platform, in a queen four-poster bed, with a cooler full of drinks, a wash basin and towel, lanterns, and a loo at the base of the ladder - all surrounded by mosquito netting - luxury in a tree. They drop you off after dinner and pick you up in the morning at whatever time you specify. An amazing experience - a must-do! This camp is favoured by photographers because of its 3 hides - elephant, hippo and carmine bee-eater - and we did get some great photos.

Here are the links to these camps:

http://www.oldmondoro.com/

http://www.kaingo.com/zambia-safari-camps/kaingo/

The most people we had in a vehicle at either camp was four - the vehicles were not covered.

In Livingstone, we stayed at Waterberry Lodge, which was lovely - on the river, great birding, delicious meals, exceptionally helpful staff - you won't be disappointed. We stayed two nights and wished we had stayed a third - ask for the River House - it is right on the water. CR

http://www.waterberrylodge.com/
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Nov 14th, 2011, 11:43 PM
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"Kaingo was all about lions"

Ironic, as Kaingo is Nyanja for leopard!

That area around Kaingo/Mwamba/Lion Camp is amazing for lions- there are 2 strong prides- the Mwamba pride and the Hollywood pride.
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Nov 14th, 2011, 11:54 PM
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It was Nsefu females (10) and Hollywood males (2) that killed the two buffalo - there is some interesting mixing going on amongst the three prides apparently. CR
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Nov 15th, 2011, 01:14 AM
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Last year the Hollywood males (there were 3 last year) were servicing both the Nsefu pride on the other side of the river, and the Hollywood pride on the Kaingo side. So all the cubs of both prides are probably theirs. I'd heard the Nsefu pride had crossed. Three prides in one area could be explosive, and the Mwambas in particular are a mean bunch!

Shame it's the end of the season. When the camps shut down no one really knows what's going on until next May.
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Nov 15th, 2011, 01:36 AM
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Hi Lisa,
Late response, but I have been searching for similar ideas and came across this option with a company called The Wild Source in Colorado when googling the Bushcamp Company. It is in a similar price bracket to what you are looking for.
http://www.thewildsource.com/pdfs/za...ion-safari.pdf
I am based in the UK but believe that you can book through any travel agency so may be worth looking at - you then get your private vehicle and 2 nights off at The Bushcamp Company......
Hope this helps a little.
Katie
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Nov 17th, 2011, 04:48 PM
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Hi Katie -- That sounds pretty tempting -- it is definitely more than we wanted to spend but the private vehicle makes it appealing! I have heard a lot of great things about Old Mondoro but not the other Bushcamp camps so will need to do some research. Appreciate the suggestions!
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Nov 17th, 2011, 06:04 PM
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Would you consider Zimbabwe? Lots of reasons not to, but there are more non-walking options and the game viewing is excellent. There are also some more reasonably priced camps. I've been looking at that same Zambia trip, but I'm just not sure about it. I'm hoping they have a peaceful election in Zim soon.
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Nov 22nd, 2011, 03:08 PM
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Thanks to all of those who responded.

KatieHow -- We decided to go with a variation of what you suggested, booking through thewildsource (predator biologist who is well known to these boards). We are getting 12 nights at five Bushcamp Company locations in South Luangwa (Mfuwe Lodge, Bilimungwe, Kapamba, Chamilandu, Chindeni), with a private vehicle and guide for the whole time, and the total is $583 pppn all-in, including flights within Zambia. I'm quite pleased given that we're traveling in August which is high season.

Best to all here and appreciate all of the input!
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